Stearns: Crew monitoring wire for lineup help

GM says 'it is a possibility' club makes trade during August

Stearns: Crew monitoring wire for lineup help

MILWAUKEE -- While manager Craig Counsell and the Brewers search for their missing offense, general manager David Stearns is searching for outside help.

It is a complicated proposition, starting with the fact players must be exposed to waivers before they can be traded in August. Stearns is also walking the same fine line as Counsell: When to exercise patience, and when to act.

"For every decision, we want to make sure we're not making change for change's sake," Stearns said. "When things aren't going exactly as you would like, there's often this push or desire to feel like you control things. Taking action puts you in a position of control, but it's not always the best thing to do.

"We're working on it."

Major League Baseball rules limit what Stearns can say publicly about that effort. He was barred from commenting, for example, on whether the Brewers claimed Ian Kinsler, a longtime target who would represent an upgrade at second base.

According to a report earlier this week from MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal, the Tigers placed Kinsler on revocable waivers which were to expire Thursday afternoon.

Kinsler's solo home run

"I know we are constantly monitoring the waiver wire," Stearns said. "In order to make a trade in August, you either have to claim someone or have them clear, and then you have to work out a deal with the other team. There is that additional hurdle.

"I wouldn't put it as a definite, but I certainly think it is a possibility that between now and the end of August we are able to pull something off."

The aim is to restore life to an offense that ranked fourth in the Majors with 1.52 home runs per game and eighth with 4.96 runs per game while building a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Central before the All-Star break.

The power went out over the four-day break, though. In their first 25 games of the second half entering Thursday's game against the Twins, the Brewers tied for 25th in the Majors with one homer per game and ranked last with 3.16 runs per game and a .176 average with runners in scoring position. After going 9-16 in those games, the Brewers were 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cubs and found themselves in a virtual tie with the Cardinals for second place.

The Brewers have put claims on multiple hitters this month, but those players either didn't get to Milwaukee's position on the wire or were pulled back.

Second base has been chief among the Brewers' problems in the second half, particularly because Eric Sogard and Jonathan Villar were once Counsell's choices to lead off. Sogard fueled the offense after a mid-May promotion from Triple-A, but he injured his ankle on July 4 against the Orioles and entered Thursday 3-for-34 since returning from the disabled list. Villar suffered major regression from his breakthrough 2016 season and entered Thursday's start against the Twins with a .603 OPS in 2017.

In the Minors, the Brewers have an option for second baseman in Ivan De Jesus Jr., who entered Thursday with a .918 OPS at Triple-A Colorado Springs. DeJesus, who is not on the 40-man roster, has a .630 OPS in 545 plate appearances over parts of four big league seasons.

"Whenever a team goes through a slump, I think the natural inclination is to look for causation," Stearns said. "Players do that, coaches do that, and certainly we're doing that, as well. In this case, we firmly believe we have talented hitters. We think these guys have shown they are talented hitters throughout the vast majority of the season.

"And we're in a slump right now. We obviously recognize that."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.